Azzopardi swaps Floriana for Old-Firm rivals Sliema

Azzopardi swaps Floriana for Old-Firm rivals Sliema

Birkirkara to sign Paul Fenech

Ian Azzopardi

Ian Azzopardi

Sliema Wanderers snapped up the services of Floriana defender Ian Azzopardi, just three days after they struck a deal to sign Matthew Bartolo from Hibs.

Robert Arrigo, the Sliema Wanderers president, told The Times that Azzopardi has agreed to a five-year contract.

"Ian Azzopardi was one of our main transfer targets," Arrigo said.

"Our efforts to secure his signature were also somewhat helped by the fact that he was out of contract. We're delighted to have made our second significant signing after that of Matthew Bartolo."

Azzopardi's switch to the Wanderers had been on the cards for quite a while after it emerged that Sliema had acted swiftly to open discussions with the Malta left-back in the close season.

As his lengthy contract with Floriana expired last month, Azzo-pardi was free to hold transfer talks with other clubs.

The 24-year-old fancied a new challenge by joining one of the country's leading clubs. Sliema were not alone in expressing an interest but, as in Bartolo's case, they have won the race for Azzopardi's signature.

The new signings will bolster the playing resources at the disposal of coach Ray Farrugia but the latter is also prepared to sanction the departure of a number of players who are deemed surplus to requirements at Sliema.

Meanwhile, Birkirkara have virtually secured the services of Msida midfielder Paul Fenech.

Contacted by The Times, Julian Holland, Fenech's agent, confirmed that the Malta U-21 captain met Birkirkara officials yesterday evening to finalise contract talks. Fenech is set to sign a five-year deal with the Stripes.

Kenneth Spiteri, the young Hibs defender, is also expected to don the red/yellow colours next season after agreeing a move to Birkirkara.

Sources also told The Times that Birkirkara have resumed negotiations over the transfer of Roderick Briffa to another club. Valletta and Sliema are both interested in the versatile Malta midfielder.

Valletta are also expected to raise their efforts to reinforce their squad with new signings over the coming days. The Citizens, who have already sealed a deal for Sliema midfielder Stefan Giglio and have reached a verbal agreement to re-sign Argentine striker Sebastian Monesterolo, are looking to bring in a midfielder, probably a foreigner, and a defender.

Last weekend, upcoming defender Steve Bezzina committed his future to Valletta after signing a long-term contract.

Meanwhile, Robert Gatt will stay in charge of Hibs for at least another year but the former Malta U-21 coach will have a new right-hand man.

The Paolites are looking to engage an assistant coach after the departure of Michael Woods who has taken over at Division One club St George's.

On Friday, Birkirkara FC elected their committee for season 2007-2008.

Victor Zammit has been confirmed as chairman, Joe Gauci is the club's senior vice-chairman while John Borg and Joe Zammit will occupy the other two vice-chairman posts. Peter Calleja will continue in his role as club secretary.

For their part, Msida St Joseph will be led by Robert Farrugia.

The long-serving committee member took up the vacant president's role at the annual general meeting, succeeding Antoine Portelli, now honorary president.

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